Scott Bakal
Things I Experience
Article for Baseline Magazine & Traveling Abroad
My colleague, educator, author and designer Elizabeth Resnick and I co-teach a travel course through MassArt. It's called Crossing the Pond: Exploring Communication Design in London and Dublin. We take graphic design and illustration students (usually 50/50) to the UK and Ireland for about 17 days for museum and studio visits as well as see lectures from designers and illustrators. The focus being; what are the differences and similarities between the U.S. and other countries in their use of design and illustration.

We just got back a few days ago from our 2016 trip and finally, an article we co-wrote about our 2014 trip and course is now being published by Baseline magazine.

You can download the full article PDF here. Thank you to Hans Dieter Reichert, Publisher of Baseline.

It is a wonderful trip and highly curated experience for the students. We hit the ground running from the very day we land. Often visiting two to three studios a day as well as cultural visits to the V&A Museum in London, Chester Beatty Gallery in Dublin to name only two. We also purchase tickets to plays going on at the time and there is always one day in each country that the students can explore the country on their own.
Crossing the Pond - 2016 Class/Dublin
Highlights for the 2016 trip include visiting Pentagram UK and a talk from brilliant designer Harry Pearce; visiting St. Bride's and seeing original sketches for Gill Sans, pages from the Book of the Dead and a complete first book printed in English from the 1400's; visiting Annie Atkins studio - she creates the graphics for TV shows and movies such as the Grand Budpest Hotel, The Tudors and others - all the newspapers, signage, etc. for the sets. Further, lectures from illustrators Steve Simpson, Alan Clarke and Sarah Bowie were wonderful and ended up with all of the students and much of the Irish Illustrators Guild chatting it up at a local pubover pints.

This is only to list a fraction of the itinerary.
Annie Atkins
Another highlight is while we are un the UK and Ireland, we connect with other schools. We visited the Cambridge School of Art where are students shared presentation of their work and had a rich discussion about being a student in their schools, Royal Academy of Art where they saw presentations from illustration and design Masters students and finally Dublin Institute where our students worked directly with DIT students on a two-day project with live clients in the Dublin area and gave presentations of their work.

The students have the chance to connect with their UK and Irish peers but also experience education styles in those countries first hand.

(Pictured below: left is MassArt Junior graphic design student Lexie Rubin and on right in yellow, MassArt illustration Senior Victoria Maxfield who has been in the last two Society Student Scholarship competitions and won last year's Zankel Scholarship.)
MassArt and DIT students working together on live community projects.
This is one of my most favorite courses I teach (duh!) because not only do I have the chance to  give the students an opportunity to experience all of these wonderful things, but everytime the course is run, we try to change up and bring in new things as well that we discover as teachers.

It's always a wonderful experience and the time with the students who eventually become dear friends is really the whole joy of the trip.
New Britain Museum of American Art
I'm a little behind with posting but I am pleased that in August, the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut has acquired my Dim Stars - Pollution Series for the museum's permanent collection. A total of nine large paintings, this series has been awarded by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Luerzer's 200 Best and 3x3 as well as been exhibited in shows in New York, Boston and Vermont and now has a permanent home in Connecticut.

The New Britain Museum, founded in 1903, is the first museum strictly dedicated to American Art in the country. Further, the Sanford B. D. Low Memorial Illustration Collection, begun in 1964 and comprising more than 1,700 works, is the nation’s first museum-based collection covering the history of American illustration from the 19th century to the present

When I first discovered this museum, I was driving by on my way to my family's house and followed the signs to a small two story house built sometime in the 1800's. I was surprised to see an exhibition of the Hudson River artists as well as work from James Montgomery Flagg, Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell and many other illustrators and historic and contemporary artists. Years later a new museum was built, which I am standing in front of in the above photo. Now the New Britain Museum is in the process of another expansion, which finishes in October and will create seven galleries in a new wing. There is more to read about this museum at their website.

There aren't many major museums in the country that have collections that cater to illustration and have galleries designated for its exhibits. I would have never thought I would find myself being asked to be part of this collection. I am moved and deeply honored.

Special thank you's to Douglas Hyland, Executive Director; Emily Misencik, Assistant Curator; Stacy Cerullo, Collections Manager; Lindsley Wellman and the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Committee. Extra special thanks to Murray Tinkelman.
Frost | 16” x 20” | Acrylic and Ink on Wood Panel
Global Warming | 16” x 20” | Acrylic and Ink on Wood Panel
Float | 30” x 40” | Acrylic and Ink on Canvas
Diamond Core #1 (Acid Rain) | 16” x 20” | Acrylic and Ink on Wood Panel
Diamond Core #2 (Death) | 11” x 14” | Acrylic and Ink on Wood Panel
Diamond Core #3 (The Cleanse) | 16” x 20” | Acrylic and Ink on Wood Panel
The Search | 17” x 11” | Acrylic, Ink and Metallic Paint on Crescent Illustration Board
CO2 | 16” x 20” | Acrylic, Ink and Silver Leaf on Wood Panel
Diamond Power! | 30” x 40” | Acrylic and Ink on Canvas
Gill Sans - St. Bride UK
This past March, while in London, I visited a wonderful place called St. Bride Library + Foundation. My colleague Elizabeth Resnick and myself brought students to London and Dublin for a course trip. We saw and visited so many studios and museums from the Victoria & Albert Museum to the offices of Pentagram UK. I am not going into detail about the 17 days we had there - that could be pages and pages - but I wanted to focus on St. Bride and one artifact that was amazing to see and touch.

I think most people who have done any design work, at some point, has used or have fallen in love with Gill Sans. While at St. Bride, I had the fortune to see some of the original work that went into creating the typeface.

I wanted to share this amazing find with you so I made sure I wrote them to get some comprehensive information about what we're looking at. Most of which they told me on the spot but I was too busy dragging my jaw around the place.

I know there are many instructors that would love to use these images for their courses - I've already been asked by a few. Please feel free to use these images for your lectures.
What you see above and just below is a wood type specimen printed to show the lower case characters in the Johnston Railway Alphabet. This particular copy was the personal property of Edward Johnston, designer of the typeface. Wood type was generally made in sizes greater than 72 point (one inch) and a reference chart such as this might well have been used as an aid to signwriters. Eric Gill was a pupil of Johnston and the railway alphabet is an obvious influence on the Gill Sans design.
The photo above and the two below are early versions of Eric Gill’s upper case Gill Sans typeface. It is lettered in black indian ink on tracing paper and shows some signs of the geometric construction of the letters. The sketch is identified as a “Titling” face, an extra-large version which filled the full height of the metal body of the typeface, with no space for lower case descenders. The drawing was signed and dated by Gill himself on 6 June 1927. An additional note adds that the characters are for Series 262 (Monotype Gill Sans).
The image above and the two below are lower case drawings for Gill Sans, signed and dated 20 July 1928 – the year that the face was issued by Monotype. The final digit of the date (written in pencil) is very hard to read – it may be a “7” (in which case this might be the earliest drawing) or possibly an “8”, in which case it may not be. Some of the letterforms in this drawing were modified for the final version of the face (the tail of the “p” and “q” are angled in the drawing, but not in the completed face) which suggests that this may be a very early incarnation and the date may be 1927.
As a bonus to this post, I wanted to show you only a couple of photos of their print shop they have on site which is basically a museum of presses and different forms of type faces.

The kind gentlemen giving us the lecture went through all the tools from wood to metal, showed us how they were made and used then showed us examples of various printing techniques.
Rubbing talcum powder on the surface to see the etching.
We were also fortunate enough to work on a Columbian using a 100+ year old woodcut - if I remember that correctly. It is a monster of a press but the action was so incredibly fluid and easy.
Then, in the book room, we were treated with some incrediby rare books to view. This one blew my mind - The Works of Geoffery Chaucer...the original printing and binding.
There were a couple of other books they brought out - one being the oldest printed book that was in English...1400's as I remember.

I hope this post gave you a taste of how brilliant St. Bride is and if you are ever in London, I highly recommend visiting. If you want the sort of access I had, you're going to have to call ahead for an appointment and there is a charge for it.

** It is completely worth it.  **

On future personal and course trips, this will certainly be a place I will continue to visit.
Teacherly Things

Its the end of the semester and tonight is Portfolio Night at MassArt! I felt like writing about some teacherly things that I do and some experiences I've had over the last 4-5 months. I don't often blog about this stuff but I wanted to give a nod to so many friends who have not only had an impact on my students life but people who've had an impact on my life as well.


During my school year, I try to bring in a guest or two to inspire the students and get them thinking about what is possible as an illustrator. I have a tendency to ask younger working artists to come in. While not a rule, I do this for a couple of reasons. Often, when there are guest speakers brought into schools, they are the 'heavy hitters' (We've had Chris Buzelli, Barron Storey and James Gurney over the last couple of years) who have lots of experience which is amazing for any student but sometimes, I want to reach them from a different angle. I'd like the students to see and listen to a person that is just a couple of years older than they are and have been having lots of success. I think it helps students relate to the guests a bit more and get some real-time information about what it means to be struggling right now and how to overcome early self-doubts and failures.

I've had wonderful guests JooHee Yoon, Daniel Fishel and in November, I had Becca Stadtlander come in to do lectures and demos for a couple of days. She was absolutely wonderful and very thorough with her presentations and demos. I did a post-lecture interview here on the MassArt blog.

Becca demo.
I have my Junior illustration students research and do a slide lecture of their favorite illustrator. In the first six weeks of my class, the first hour of every class, I do a History of Illustration lecture from the 1800's to present day. Since I do this, I assigned to the students to show who their favorite illustrators are and do a presentation themselves. One of my students inspired Becca's visit by doing a presnetation on her. Since I knew Becca personally, I invited her in.
Becca only being 26 years old a few years out of school, the students got to see the time and effort she puts into her work, her process and how she keeps her substantial business flowing. She was incredibly inspiring.

These sorts of experiences really stick with someone and remain part of their education and life for the rest of their lives. As a personal example, I remember in quite a lot of detail, Marshall Arisman giving a painting demonstration in the class I had with him back when he was teaching undergrad at SVA around 1991. There was nothing like watching one of my favorite artists, while smoking a cigarette in the SVA amphitheater dip his hands into a coffee can full of turpentine, squirt a load of Van Dyke Brown oil paint into his bare hands and wipe it all over a 30x40" sheet of Strathmore paper and 'sculpt' out one of his famous painted heads.
Becca and class.
A couple of years ago, I brought up my buddy and Drawger, Victo Ngai to do her first ever lecture to students. She was fairly successful then but her success had continued to grow so I thought I would bring her up once again in February for a new batch of students. Since that first lecture, she's developed into a wonderful speaker.

Victo creates intense masterpieces and what is brilliant is her openness to discuss her technique and show quite explicitly how she works. This was an extremely special treat to the students but also, they saw other sides of what it is to be an illustrator. The students saw that she is a very smart business person as well. Victo presents herself as extremely self-aware and knows who she is and what she wants and she does it. With her techniques, her business savvy and especially the thoughtfulness of the ideas within her work, its not a surprise she is as successful as she is.
Victo left the students in awe.
Thank yous to all the guests who have come in and have spoken to our students. You really inspire an make a difference. It always brings a smile to my face when I walk around the studios and I see all of the guests postcards and posters lining the students wall space for inspiration.


Getting out of the house once and while and traveling to do lectures myself is necessary for me. I've been very fortunate to be asked to visit various schools around the country for years and usually do one every semester. It is one of my joys in life for a few reasons; I usually get to go somewhere new and have experiences in a place that I would have never had the opportunity to go to. I also get to meet faculty and artists at those schools and talk about illustration and the aches and pains of being an educator. It's is very important for me to see what other illustration departments are doing and what they're successful at and they're usually just as curious.
The best part and the most fun I have in doing lectures is being with the students.
A few days after Victo came to visit in February, I was on a plane to the Kansas City Art Institute. I've never been to the school nor Kansas City before but I understood the BBQ is amazing there. Officially, yes, it is amazing.
This particular visit had a little more weight than normal for me. Apparently, every semester the students collectively choose who they want to come in to visit the school and for this trip, they selected me. I don't think I could have asked for a higher honor.
I had to give the students an assignment about a month before I arrived in KC and judge the 25 Best Pieces then present them in front of the entire department. I even had to pick the Top 3! Yikes! I've been in judging situations many times but this was tough because not only did I have to judge the pieces, I had to show my selections to all of the students and talk about why they were successful or not so successful. Fortunately, there were many great images so it wasn't a horribly sad and painful critique. During the rest of the day I did a 'this is my work' lecture then a little later, we had a 'roundtable' discussion mostly with Seniors to talk about business related things. The students were wonderful, thoughtful and very well spoken.
When I got home, I was deluged with kind thankful emails from many students. They've got some classy students there - the teachers at KCAI must be doing something right. 
Business talk at KCAI with Seniors.
After restarting an illustration program there for only the last four years, they are really developing a program to be reckoned with. I believe they had 12 students accepted into this years Society Student Scholarship Competition. Congrats to the students and the school and thank you for having me visit especially, Steve Mayse who made it all happen. It was a wonderful experience!
As sort of a 'prize', the Top 3 student winners were treated to a fancy dinner with myself and the faculty!

The 3 Winners! From left to right: Kelsey Wroten, Kate Dittman, Johanna Miller

The assignment I have to the students was 'Through Rose Colored Glasses'. They could interpret that in any way they chose. Here is Kelsey's, Kate's and Johanna's solutions and their websites if provided. Look out for these talented women in the future!

Kelsey Wroten - Kate Dittman - Johanna Miller

I think I am very fortunate in my life that I can meet and get to know so many people throughout my travels and experiences all because I'm an artist. All of these things affect my life helping me grow as an artist, teacher and as a person and I am humbled by it all.


And finally...these guys...I love these guys. I have been fortunate at MassArt to have some wonderful Portfolio students this year. They've been working so hard the last couple of semesters to get their work together and many of whom are already getting nods from student competitions and even getting published. Some still have a ways to go more than others but they are all on the right track. I am very proud to know them and see their growth over the last 3 years. Seeing their work, love for what they're doing and enthusiasm is one of the very reasons why I remain a teacher. I wish all of them well into the future and look forward to seeing their successes.
Show them some love and click through to their sites.
Dave Mahan
Vancouver Opera
With Tosca opening this past weekend, I am honored and privileged to present, after nearly a year under wraps, my paintings for the Vancouver Opera. The operas are Tosca, Albert Herring, Don Giovanni and Don Carlo. I would like to thank Doug Tuck and especially designer Annie Mack for making this experience exciting and wonderful.

I didn't know much about the opera so I had to take a crash course on it as well as study the performances that I was going to work on. After hours of watching DVD's they sent me and getting schooled on the history from Doug, I dove into the project with a newfound respect and excitement for the artform.

To create a single image from seeing such intense operas is quite daunting. Trying to encapsulate the mood and the subject matter in one image from operas that provide unlimited visuals isn't very easy. I am grateful that Doug and Annie were there to talk out the possibilities of each image and pare it down to one solid piece of art that hits the heart of the piece. It was a wonderfully collaborative effort.
A couple of months ago, there was an added angle to this project when the Vancouver Opera decided to create TV spots for Tosca and Don Giovanni. An animation studio in Vancouver, Giant Ant, did an absolutely stellar job taking my original painting for Tosca from the files I provided them to create a powerful 15 second spot that blew my mind. Don Giovanni will begin production in a few months.
Below are a fraction of the sketches I did for the project. These were the one's that I sent the client.

As you can see, Tosca and Don Carlo were the pieces that we went back and forth a couple of times discussing exactly what they were looking for. I think they felt those two performances were the most important because Tosca is a powerful opera that opens the season and Don Carlo is an elaborate production that the Vancouver Opera hasn't put on in 30+ years. The Albert Herring and Don Giovanni work, they felt I got it right in the first round and selected from these initial sketches.

One of things Annie wanted to do which is different than past posters is include the text right on the art with the art being a separate entity. In the past, the art was either completely separate from the text or composed with the text as part of the art. I initially didn't feel too good about that as I want to compose the art in its proper space and let the designer work out how to deal with text. In this case, there needed to be monstrous space in the art to accommodate the type.

I decided that if this was the case, then I wanted to do the lettering along with it. Annie was excited about that and let me have free reign with the type and listened to some suggestions. You can see in these sketches that I was thinking about the text as I was composing some of the ideas. I was getting a feel for the type of lettering I wanted to do.

Originally, I wanted the text to be a sort of script. Annie and I deduced that we needed to make sure it was legible and we were worried that script would be too problematic so I went with a print-style version. I do wish some of these layouts came to fruition though. The center sketch wth the two eyes in the top row I thought could have been interesting.
Here is a selection of finished drawings that I used for the paintings and a sort of color treatment and layout option for Don Carlo that ended up being a direction that the rest of the posters ended up being designed.

All pretty much stayed the same except for Albert Herring. About a week ago when Annie was finishing up the layouts for the posters which were only just finalized (nearly a year after these sketches), Annie realized that Herring wasn't going to work. So I did some of my digital magic to pull the head and hat off the art and recreate the background to make room for the lettering and information.
Here is the collection of final posters with the final type. I don't think there is too much of a need to show all the lettering studies. In a nutshell, I used pencil, charcoal, ink, ink stopper, chopstick and other 'pens' to write the titles over and over...and over again. When I found two or three for each opera that I felt best convey the opera but that could work collectively together as part of a series, I sent selections to Annie to choose from.

I am extremely pleased with this series and speechless of the honor to be able to create work for the Vancouver Opera. I've already been getting nice notes from folks up in Vancouver who have seen the Tosca posters and advertisements. Good luck to the opera and the new season and thank you again Doug Tuck and Annie Mack for your trust, wisdom and the wonderful experience.
I received this letter a few weeks ago. Having a minor heart event and scraping myself up off the pavement after blacking out, I tried to wrap my head around what went wrong. I owe the IRS $36K? Holy shit.

Fortunately, I am happy to report that this particular issue ended up being the IRS forgetting to put a decimal point in a number from one of the 1099's that was reported. A DECIMAL POINT caused this!

Once I discovered what the issue actually was and got the documentation, including having to bug the client to write a letter stating that they correctly reported the income, things were a bit easier in my mind - and my heart-rate dropped back to normal.
A backstory - about 6-7 years ago, I was audited by the IRS. It was a nightmare for a while and all the worst case senarios flew through my mind but in the end, I learned a lot from the experience.

Why I was audited was through a series of financial reporting and new tax write-off's that were fairly high at the time and the 'red flag' was that I wrote off transportation expenses on two different parts of the tax return for two different types of write-offs. They wanted to make sure that I wasn't double dipping. Of course, in their letter, while they were auditing me, they also included a laundry list of specific write-off's that I needed to justify while I was in the office including things like advertising and promotional expenses among others.
I've always been pretty organized but as it turned out, the audit was for two years earlier - just like the recent letter I just got. Expect that, by the way. If you're going to get audited, it'll most likely be for about two years earlier. My issue was that it happened to be the year that my receipts were sort of disheveled and essentially unorganized in a shoebox. Usually, I properly file everything but I started using new software but screwed it up and some life events at the time put organizing this stuff on the back-burner. More like, behind the stove.

What calmed me down was when my tax guy asked me a simple question:

"The numbers you give me...they're real, right?" 
"Then you have nothing to worry about. Just find those numbers and give them what they are looking for...and that'll be that."

Of course, again, that year I was hoping to find every receipt I claimed. I wasn't so sure I had them because I trusted the print out. The search for paper over a period of a month began.

Skipping ahead a bit and to give you an idea of what the meeting was like: The IRS woman was very stern and professional - and very intimidating. Everything was 'Mr. Bakal' and 'Hello, I am Mrs. So-And-So" - she made me feel guilty for the simple fact I was called in. I wonder if they are trained to do that?

She asked about - and we discussed at great length - what I did as a business so she had an idea of why things are being written off. Questions like "Why do you buy paint?" were the sort of thing that was questioned.

After that, she went through the tax form and started asking for all the receipts that added up to this particular Transportation number and that Office Expense number and so on. I had to show her all of the receipts that equaled this and that number.

After about a half hour, she became very relaxed and more pleasant. Most likely realizing that I wasn't trying to 'put one over' or invent expenses. I guess the fear tactic is her M.O. In the end, according to her, she was surprised I was even called in. Most people 'leave her office owing $40,000 or more'. Jaw dropped.

There was a bit of irregularity in my tax return because of where my write-off for the rent of my studio was and I ended up owing only a couple of hundred dollars. Darn.

I asked if my tax guy did anything wrong with that - she said 'no'. She reassured 'he actually did a great job and there is nothing really wrong, it's just he knows the loopholes and in this case, the studio rent number and where it was filled in doesn't work for your taxes  for THIS particular year.

With the audit and the recent letter from the IRS, I thought it would be helpful, especially to students and new rising illustrators starting up, to have a short list of things that may be able to help keep yourself organized with bookkeeping. It would be pretty difficult to have all the details listed here but having some common sense items can get people started with good habits. I will skip over LLC's and the more involved parts of running a business and I hope that my buds here at Drawger and from the outside can help add to the information and discussion that may come up.

Since we are sole-proprietors and have interesting write-offs, we are very ripe to be audited. I was audited because I went back to school for my Master's Degree and the new numbers and papers raised the red flag. So it is imperative that you get into the habit of staying organized and understanding your finances.

The short list:

1. Get a good accountant

I've had my accountant before I graduated from the School of Visual Arts - probably around '91 or '92. It was from a family recommendation. He was not an 'artist accountant' as some folks have. We both grew together learning the business. He knew how to deal with sole-proprietors but I had to help him understand the business of an illustrator as I gained more experience. And now after 20 years, we have a great symbiotic relationship dealing with taxes or related issues.

2. Have separate bank accounts

This is a must. Be sure you are separating business and personal income and expenses. You can simply start with two separate checking and savings accounts and go from there. Do this with credit cards also. This makes paperwork and tracking information much easier and doesn't cloud where money is coming or going.

3. Set up accounting software or paperwork system

I started in the era of paper and it took a while for me to switch to digital/paper which was 2003. Up until a few months ago, I was using Microsoft Money 2003. I've recently switched to a Mac system so I bought iBank to replace Money. It generally works the same. With this software, you can create categories for your income and expenses which really helps with understanding where your money is coming and going and helps with budgeting.

Many people have started using to help organize their income and expenditures. It's done online and it seems like an interesting alternative. I might have tried it out if I knew about it before I bought iBank. if anyone using out there would like to comment on it pro and/or con in the 'comments' section, please do.

4. Keep a Paper Trail

Receipts, online purchases, credit card purchases and statements, internet costs, etc. If you are going to put a number down on your tax form, you should have a real number on a piece of paper backing it up.

This is where your organization and bookkeeping system will come in handy and help build up a habit of weekly 'bookkeeping' work. Admittedly, sometimes it's monthly for me. Mostly because I have my system so down to a science. I can usually get through filing bills, receipts and verifying my checking accounts in about an hour or so.

I also recommend keeping a paper-trail along side digital rather than just all digital. It might be a little extra work, but in the experiences I've had, it really has helped having paper files to show the IRS. Don't throw out those 1099's, receipts or bank statements. 
With those basics, here is a simple flow of paperwork and activities that I do here to keep my financials organized in a way that makes sense to me and that if I ever have to go throught an audit or receive a letter like the one above again, I can quickly and easily find exactly what I need.

This system might not work for you but hopefully get you thinking about how you can create a system for yourself.
The work desk.

I have it organized in a way that I know where everything is and I know at what step each transaction is at. What I want at the end of the week is a clear desk.

'A' - These are the checks and bills that accumulate during the week that have to be entered into the Business or Personal folders 'C' and into the computer - or if its a utility or personal file like car insurance, it goes on the 'B' pile into another file box (not pictured).


The image below are the two 'C' receipt folders. One contains personal receipts and the other is all the business related stuff - receipts, print outs, check stubs, etc. 

Below the picture of the file folders are what the inside of the folders look like. You can see how the receipts and papers are paper clipped and are organized by category writen on the top right.
I swear, I keep paperclip companies in business.

I had created a category and subcategory list years ago that define where each piece of paper goes. I created these categories in the software as well.

For example: I created a SHIPPING category. The subcategories are FEDEX, UPS and USPS. With this, I know how much is spent on each service and then know my total for anything shipped. I do this with all major categories and create sub-categories depending upon the services within it.

During the year, I organize these papers so when tax-time comes, all I need to do is print out my bank and credit card statements and start adding up the totals. It looks like a mess in the photo below - but really, it is very organized.
Using the Post-It notes you can see in the picture, I put the totals on each of the paperclipped categories and match them to my categorized print out from my accounting software (upper left marked Categories). This sheet, with all the final numbers is given to my tax accountant.
Then it all finds its way into one of these folders. They are in storage and I keep about 10 years worth. At the 6-7 year mark, I generally shred all the receipts and documentation and just keep the tax forms themselves up to the 10 year mark. There is no reason to keep anything longer than that.

That is the basic bookkeeping system that I've been doing for the last 20 years. The audit really helped and taught me to get tighter with my paperwork and reporting. When I got the $36,954 bill, it took less than an hour to locate every bit of information for the error. This included the original 1099, the pay stub, the deposit amount to my bank, my original invoice and even the original email from 2 years ago for the job stating the fee structure and agreement. Within a week, I had a letter from the client stating that our reporting was correct and the IRS made the error. (That felt good to say!)

It's all a little extra work during the process but it'll save you a lot of unneeded stress.

I hope this helps some folks out.
Toronto Blue Jays Care Foundation
I was invited by Dave Murray, illustrator and owner of the Garrison Creek Bat Company to create a custom bat for an upcoming celebrity charity event for the Toronto Blue Jays. Each bat is custom made by being turned on a 50 year old Rockwell lathe before being hand finished.

The auction happens at "The Curve Ball", which is the charity gala happening May 13th on the Rogers Centre field. It's a huge event with tickets running at $600.00 a piece with many of the baseball players themselves attending the event. Unfortunately, I have prior commitments and cannot be there in May but I am trying to set something up for July for a visit - check out a game and hang with my iller friends up in Canada.

The charity is the Jays Care Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays. From their website: "Since 1992, Jays Care Foundation has created opportunities for children and youth in need by providing access to programs that promote regular physical activity, encourage the pursuit of higher education and impart fundamental life skills. The Foundation has made possible the building of dedicated, accessible, safe youth spaces for recreational programming, inspiring engagement through the sport of baseball. As the charitable arm of Canada's only Major League Baseball team, Jays Care is making a Major League effort to invest in Canadian children and communities from coast to coast."

There are 15 artists who created bats and I hope they all sell at the auction to help raise money for this amazing foundation.
My bat is called ‘Propulsion’ – named for that power one wants when they are up for bat - also connected to the concept of the foundation; having the power and help to succeed and thrive. As a teacher and long time advocate for student scholarships, I think programs and foundations such as this are immensly important to the future of so many young kids and I am honored to be part of this project.

Thank you Dave for the invitation and a special thanks to Kristina for being a sport and modeling for me.
A few process photos.
Earth: Fragile Planet in Boston
At the beginning of last semester, I made it my chore to try to get an illustrator exhibit at MassArt.  There has been a lot of great exhibits up here including a Robert Crumb exhibit, AIDS Awareness Poster exhibit and William Kentridge among many others which really make the galleries at MassArt rival the top-end galleries.  Over the last couple of years being here, what I thought has lacked is an all-out illustrator-specific exhibition with some of the best illustratrators working today.

I spoke with the MassArt gallery folks Lisa Tung and Chloe Zaug about the possibilities of various group shows that I was aware of.  They were excited about the prospect of the Earth: Fragile Planet exhibit which originated as 200 pieces at the Society of Illustrators because it featured amazing artists from all over the country and the topic is widely appealing.  This reduced show of 40 pieces which now hangs at MassArt selected by the original curators highlights what the exhibition was all about.

Chloe, Lisa and the gallery staff have been nothing but professional, caring and enthusiastic about this exhibit in the President's Gallery at MassArt and I would like to thank them for the encouragement and help making this show happen.  Thanks also goes to the Chairperson, Linda Bourke for her help and guidance and the illustration department for being so enthusiastic about having this show.

One of the amazing off-shoots that came from this show after some discussion with the Lisa and Chloe is a 'student response' exhibit in the same gallery.  In October, the students from the illustration department will have their own 'Earth' exhibit highlighting their own voice and opinions about the environment!  It'll be an exciting couple of months here at MassArt for illustration and hope to see many local artist and illustrators at the openings.

Opening and Public Reception: September 12th, 2011 - 5:30pm

Massachusetts College of Art and Design
621 Huntington Avenue, Boston

11th Floor - President's Gallery

Exhibit runs until September 30th.
It's not my birthday (Happy Birthday, Zimm!) but I got my copy of CMYK just in time for St. Patrick's Day.  Ronald Cala III, Creative Director at CMYK and I had a conversation many months ago about what I could write about.  He didn't want the usual question and answer thing but wanted something that was more organic and telling of what goes on in an artists life.

Since this magazine seems to cater to the 'New Creatives', the idea was to take some part of the illustration business and talk about it from a first person sort of view so new illustrators out there can get a sense of what it is like to get started and what it takes to be an illustrator.

Every year I see some seriously talented students hang up their shingle and see so few make it past 3-5 years in the business.  We just got done with the Student Scholarship for this year and the work is unfuckingbelievable but the numbers will drop pretty quick of those who will remain illustrators. This business is hard and in my opinion, you have to be very dedicated to it and push through all those hard times that will come.  Oh yes...they WILL come.  It may be oversimplifying but I think in part, brains a good work ethic, a love for making art and good work, you just might have a career.
Ron also thought it would be cool if I illustrated the number that has been adorrning the cover for the last couple of years and of course, I thought that would be fun to do as I've been toying with type here and there and want to expand on it.  I've been making 'spikey' images in my sketchbook lately and starting to put them in some of my work so I wanted to give this a shot.

I'd like to congratulate Yuko Shimizu and Drawger/Illoz/Illogator/Ohger/etc. creator Robert Zimmerman for both having articles in the same issue and Chris Buzelli for judging this issue's New Creative Competition!  A special nod to Victo Ngai, new illustrator tearing up the print world who has got a few pieces in this issue.
Thanks to Ronald and CMYK and thanks to everyone else who has emailed me about this article!
Also, to catch up with everyone else's postings, my piece 'Red Fish' is hanging at the Society of Illustrators Advertising and Institutional show this month.  It's one of my more favorite recent paintings and I am proud that is was recognized.
...and for one more little blast of happiness, unbeknownst to me, my client at Teaching Tolerance Magazine entered a few of my pieces I did for them in the HOW International Design Issue and 'The Only One' was accepted in the Illustration Category!  I've never personally entered the competition before and was thrilled to get the email from the client when all the awards were announced.
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Bakal is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!